Action needed to ensure all can board planes at Walla Walla Airport

Port officials are now working with TSA and Horizon officials to make improvements.

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It was absolutely ridiculous 15 passengers were not allowed to board the June 26 Horizon Air flight at the Walla Walla Regional Airport. And, unfortunately, this is not the first time a passenger has been left waiting in the terminal.

Clearly, there is a problem - a big problem - at the airport. But it's not fair to put all of the blame on the Transportation Security Administration agents for the length of time it takes them to check passengers through to the secure area.

Horizon Air and the passengers - not individually, but as a group - share in the culpability.

Walla Wallans don't like to wait in lines and rarely see the need. After all, this is a relatively small town.

The airport, too, is relatively small. Given that, getting to the airport 90 minutes before a flight just doesn't seem necessary because not all that many people are on a plane.

And even when folks did show up extra early they found themselves waiting around because the Horizon Air employees weren't there to check them in because they were attending to some of their other duties. Those employees do it all.

Over time, this has developed into what is essentially a bad habit. More and more passengers show up later and later or wait in the airport to go through security. This causes a strain on the TSA agents trying to screen passengers.

Still, and it seems to be a universal complaint, TSA agents in Walla Walla seem to be slower than TSA agents at other airports. This isn't a verified fact, merely an anecdotal observation shared with us by some readers after the June 26 incident received attention in the U-B.

Walla Walla resident Jan Corn wrote a letter to the editor sharing her understandable irritation with being left behind Jan. 26. U-B business reporter Vicki Hillhouse wrote a story about the incident that featured Corn's concerns as well as a follow up on the discussion of the incident at the Port commissioners meeting that week.

Port of Walla Walla officials who oversee the airport were, as they should be, upset about what occurred. They are working with Horizon Air and TSA officials to make sure this doesn't happen again.

Hillhouse reported Port officials are looking at several ways to prevent another June 26 fiasco. Commissioners are encouraging the purchase of a flat-screen television set for the secured passenger waiting area. They've also authorized employees to see if coffee service can be provided inside that area to encourage passengers to go through security earlier. Additionally, Port and airport officials plan to have stickers made and distributed at the Horizon check-in counter to encourage people to immediately proceed to security.

Meetings with Horizon, TSA and Port officials are going to happen.

Bringing attention to this incident was an important step toward solving the problem. Regardless of who is at fault, changes need to be made.

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